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Gardaí disarmed man (62) brandishing hatchet and imitation shotgun, court hears

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A 62-year-old man brandishing a hatchet and a realistic imitation pump-action shotgun threatened to kill gardaí during a welfare check at his home, a court has heard.

Daniel O'Toole of Baron's Hall Lodge, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, was arrested in the early hours this morning.

Gardaí believed the shotgun was genuine when they tackled and disarmed Mr O'Toole.

He appeared at Dublin District Court charged under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act for brandishing the axe and air gun. He has not yet pleaded.

There was an objection to bail.

Garda Conall Shaw told Judge John Lindsay the accused made no reply to the charge.

During a contested bail hearing, Gda Shaw referred to the seriousness of the incident.

Four gardaí called to Mr O'Toole's home at about 5am to conduct a welfare check.

Concerns had been raised by a family member who had received a one-word text message, "goodbye", from him.

Gda Shaw said the accused, who had just woken up, answered his door brandishing a hatchet, but the officers disarmed him.

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The garda maintained Mr O'Toole, who lived alone, then told them he had a gun in the house.

Gda Shaw recalled him "bolt" to his room and grab what they believed was a black pump-action shotgun.

The court heard he made threats to kill gardaí.

A struggle ensued in which he violently attacked gardaí as they disarmed him again, it was alleged.

They only realised it was an imitation after they arrested him.

Another officer at the scene, Garda Conal Harkin, said the accused told them "I have a gun, I'm going to use it" before he grabbed the weapon. He said Mr O'Toole violently resisted as gardaí tackled him.

Gda Harkin alleged the man claimed he had another gun in his house but admitted it was also an imitation when he got to the courthouse.

Gardaí were also searching his house, the court was told.

Judge Lindsay heard the offence could result in a five-year sentence, and further charges may be brought.

Concerns were raised he was a flight risk and had no ties to his family.

In cross-examination, Garda witnesses agreed the accused had not been interviewed and had not given his version.

Defence solicitor Kate McGhee told the court it was an airgun, and she asked the judge to note Mr O’Toole had no history of bench warrants.

The court heard he was estranged from his family.

In response to the garda's flight risk fears, the solicitor said her client is Irish, did not have a passport, and never left the country.

Judge Lindsay noted that some airguns depending on their power were classified as firearms. He deferred ruling on the application for checks on whether the imitation shotgun was capable of causing injury.

Mr O’Toole was remanded in custody to appear again next Wednesday for the resumption of the bail hearing.

The judge granted him legal aid after noting he was unemployed.


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